Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thank You, Nova and Little Sir!

It's been work, work, work here at Molecular Knitting this week (and the past two weeks, too, come to think of it). So much so that the senior graduate student in lab, who is finishing writing her PhD thesis, remarked that she was glad she was not me, she only had a thesis to write. Regrettably, she wasn't being sarcastic. I have spent less than 30 minutes knitting this week. Yes, it's all very sad. It shall continue thus until the end of work on Friday. Therefore, I was very excited to have the mail carrier deliver this to me today.

Contest loot from Little Sir's First Birthday Contest (moderated by his super nice, cool-knitter mom, Nova, Archivist on the Edge!

Nova wrapped the package so prettily. I am a terrible package wrapper; I find folding paper nicely very difficult. Therefore, I appreciate lovely wrapping. I especially like the flowered ribbon here. Nova had several different prizes to give away, and I had not expressed a preference in my comment to enter, so I had no idea which of the yarny prizes I had won. I got a really, really nice one.

Kid Seta in an imperial purple shade to die for!

Mohair/silk: so soft, so silky! It was hard to put down to go out for lunch. Nova also included chocolate and very cute sheep note cards. As I had used the last of my favorite note cards just a few weeks ago, this was a timely gift indeed. M recommended not eating the chocolate right before lunch. He is so mean. But I know he won't eat my chocolate either. M paid for college working as the head cook for a sorority; he understands the mystical importance of a woman's chocolate stash.

I have to spend much of tomorrow afternoon graphing data and fitting curves to the data and then making wonderful, wonderful tables of all the key features. I think I shall keep the imperial mohair silk next to my laptop for occasional petting and as a reminder that soon I will have time and energy to knit again.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Socks Come, Socks Go

I have learned a very valuable thing about myself: I am not a lace sock-wearing sort of girl. I think lace socks are beautiful, and I don't think less of women who wear them, but they are not for me. I wish I had known this before I knit nearly one complete lace sock and a cuff of a second (different pattern). Below you see the nearly complete lace sock in some Tofutsies on the left and the antidote to the Lace Sock Disaster of '07 on the right.

Disclaimer: No Tiki glasses were harmed during the making of this blog entry.

It was while trying on the Tofutsies Tidal Wave sock that I made my awful discovery. "I'll never, ever wear these socks," I thought. It was lowering. I hadn't thought a "tidal wave" lace sock would trip my frou-frou alarm, but it did. The other lace sock (Sundara's Petals Collection Lenten Rose) is already ripped; it was too big in addition to too lacy. Sigh.

In addition to this lace mishap, the other Tofutsies sock I showed earlier in the month, with the zig-zag twisted stitch pattern, bit the dust. Right twist = no problem. Left twist = royal pain in the butt. I could finish the socks, but I would hate them.

In desperation, I turned to Nancy Bush's Rib and Cable Sock from IK (Fall 2005). I had made it last summer to great success. I thought it might be fun to play with the rib and cable motif while maintaining the Welsh heel turn (a favorite of mine) and the star toe of three points.

The amber Tiki mug really wanted to model the sock-in-progress.

So I have a yarn-over mock cable (in Sensational Knitted Socks and BW Vol. 1) with some regular ribbing. The scrumptious yarn is Claudia Handpaints in Walk in the Woods. Anyway, I am very happy so far. So happy that I am thinking of doing a series of variations on this rib and cable theme: creativity within limits. Stay tuned.

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

WIP Revisited

"I may not be multi-colored, cabled or lace, but I still think I am a good knit." Aran Pocket Shawl

Poor intermittent WIP! How low its self-esteem has sunk since I started it last November. I'd pick it up every once in a while, knit a half-repeat and then put it back down. It watched from its basket as other WIPs became FOs and never complained. But it is a good knit. The Berocco Ultra Alpaca is softer than just wool, but still has a lot of sproinginess, which I don't usually find in alpaca. The stitch pattern is pleasant to knit, easy to memorize, but not boring. It is now over a third complete and is over 2 feet long unblocked. In the photo above it is basking in the last rays of the setting sun on a maple log M just split for firewood next autumn. I think this WIP has ripened, because I want to get it done. It was fine as an intermittent WIP for quite a while, but now I hear it calling whenever I knit. This may be due to the sock fiasco of last weekend, which is still too painful to write of in detail (so many high hopes dashed on the rocks of gauge!), but it may also just be that it is this knit's time. Does it really matter?

Yesterday evening after some brief late afternoon showers, the sunset was very grand. I had a meeting in a neighboring town, and as I drove north, I kept glancing at the sun and clouds mentally kicking myself for not having the camera with me. Then I thought to call M, and he kindly took this photo.


Happy Knitting!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chevron Scarf the First

Thanks to all my readers who left an opinion on my chevron scarf options! More of you thought the Cherry Tree Hill yarns of option 3 were the yarns they would go with. But my original choice didn't fare badly. I think I may do a version with each (as that still leaves a lot of sock yarn in my stash for socks). There are a lot of stitch patterns that make a chevron shape, and many of them can be knit as a rectangle or a triangle, so I don't intend for identical patterns. Theme and variations!

As it was, this weekend when I wanted to get started, M, my swift, was off running errands. This left Option 1. Now, I don't own Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and my LYS doesn't really sell books, and my local bookstore didn't have a copy. I had seen the stitch pattern on blogs, and I have knit Feather and Fan, so I pretty much understood the game plan. But I decided to mess around on the web and see what other sorts of chevron stitch patterns I could find. At Yarnover I found a chevron edging from nineteenth century Denmark that I liked (really pointy). I charted the pattern, changing a few decreases so they would be directional (all were K2tog in the original), added 2 edge stitches to my chart in garter stitch and cast on 47 stitches. At least, 47 stitches was the goal. Since I made 2 set up rows where I didn't have to count, it wasn't until the first pattern row that I realized I had miscounted the cast on as I cast on and when I recounted after casting on. I ripped and cast on again. Then after counting wrong again, I ripped a second time. The third time was the charm, and I was able to count to 47 twice and start my scarf. Whew!

The colors are better in real life!

I got home from lab too late to take pictures outside, so the colors are much richer and better in real life. Trust me, these yarns look great together. Although I can tell I am going to want to knit a burgundy tweed sweater to "go with." Ever since seeing Neither Hip nor Funky's sensational Sunrise Circle sweater in glorious orange tweed, I have been coveting tweedy yarn.


It was not a happy weekend for sock knitting. Two pairs were ripped due to fit issues and pattern frustration. I do have a successful sock in the works, which no one but Elsie (who doesn't blog) has seen. I think I will wait until the first sock is done (I'm on the foot) before showing a picture. I'm feeling a little jinxed at the moment.

I leave you with a picture of the delicious dinner M made (well I made the rice and vegetable--they were easy) on Sunday. It was a lovely evening for our first outdoor meal of the year. He made Cedar Plank Cooked Salmon from The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook: Wine and Recipes to Celebrate Every Season's Harvest.

Thanks, M!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Evil Eye Candy and Indecision

Aren't they pretty?



Don't they look sweet and innocent? Innocent like Brigitte's Gandalf! Deep within their flowery hearts lurks an insidious evil. I speak of pollen. Actually, I don't know what these flowers are, and if in fact their pollen causes seasonal allergies, but somebody's pollen does. I am not the only sufferer. We gather at work in the morning to compare symptoms. Since I don't wear contacts, my itchy eyes weren't the worst in lab, but the fact that I had to blow my nose six times before getting out of bed gave me most active nose honors. The lovely breeze today just spread all those plant male gametes around, and with 315 cash crops in California, there is a lot of variety. It will be a couple of days before my new anti-allergy prescription will be effective. Until then, the outside and I do not get along. But you came for knitting content.

And the knitting content leads to indecision today. In my last post I was all set to make a chevron scarf as many of you figured out. I am very busy with science work for the next several weeks, so I want happy, pretty, easy therapy knitting. As I said I was all set, then I perused my sock stash looking for my STR Henpecked to give to Elsie for her birthday (if your birthday is on the Ides of March, you deserve STR), and then indecision struck. So which option do I choose?

Options 1 and 2

Originally, I chose the burgundy with the Woodland (bottom yarn), but then I found the Claudia Hand Paints in Walk in the Woods (upper left), which also looked good with the burgundy. But if that wasn't enough to consider, I found these:

Option 3: Cherry Tree Hill in Gypsy Rose and Martha's Vineyard

I am at a complete impasse. Any thoughts?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Overheard: A FO Story

Saturday evening I finished up the knitting on the much anticipated Fleece Artist Merino Parrot socks. Today I grafted the second toe (Knitty directions work more than once!) after lunch so I could get them into the light-colored delicate load of laundry. But first the socks and I had a little photo shoot out on the back patio, and I overheard this socky conversation.

Parrot Socks

Second Sock: Well, we are a pair now, and I must say we are stylin'. Of course, we are knit from the best sock yarn in the entire universe!

First Sock: Perhaps not in the entire universe. But I do like how our kind knitter used a simple pattern so that our lovely parrot colors are shown to their best.

Parrot Socks: Eye of Partridge HeelFleece Artsit Merino in Parrot

Second Sock: Parrot, my Aunt Fanny! We look like guacamole! Really good, home made guacamole, not that nasty store bought "guac." Say, did you hear the news going round the sock basket, that the Tofutsies yarn may still not be behaving? Our knitter thinks it may be too big.

First Sock: I'm sure our knitter will solve the problem. She is thinking of switching to a smaller needle after the first repeat of the pattern. If that fails to satisfy, she is contemplating using a different ball of Tofutsies and knit it up in the Rib and Cable pattern from IK Fall 2005 by Nancy Bush. She has had excellent success with this pattern before, and she knows how it behaves.

Second Sock: I think she should just stick to yarns made from the fleece of Nova Scotian sheep. That's what I think.

First Sock: Well, having been out of the sock basket longer than you, my dear twin, I happen to know that she has plans for two skeins of our Fleece Artist Merino brethren: Burgundy and Woodland. And they won't be knit into socks.


Second Sock: What's she going to knit?! It's sock yarn for cryin' out loud!!

First Sock: If you don't know you'll just have to wait and see.

Second Sock: That's not fair!

First Sock: You know what our knitter's M says about fair.

Second Sock: What's fair?

First Sock: Pigs in a park.

Second Sock: Why you big meanie! You better keep your foot away from me! I'm gonna tell our knitter that you're a big bully.

First Sock: She's the older of two sibs herself. I'm certain she'll see things my way. Oh, and M is also the older child. Face it, you're doomed.

At this point, I decided to end hostilities by a trip through the washer. We'll see if that makes them better friends. In the meantime, the second sock will be trying to figure out what I plan to do with the Woodland and Burgundy FA. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out. ;)

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


First, thanks for all the wonderful compliments on the VLT scarf I knit for my Grandma Adeline! Now if I could just get it packaged up and mailed off to her.

Work has been very busy this past weekend and week, and I have had to do quite a bit of work at home. This seriously cut into my knitting time. It wasn't until Wednesday evening that I thought I could knit without making a mistake. Last Saturday, I procrastinated with the work stuff and managed to finish knitting the piecrust basketweave scarf. It still needs blocking.

Mmmm....soft alpaca...

I also started a sock in Tofutsies. Since I hadn't knit with this yarn before (and because my brain was goo), I decided on a simple 4x4 rib, but after 8 rounds I had two needles of pink/purple (16 st each) and one needle (24 st) of blue/purple. I wasn't getting pooling, I was getting vertical segregation! I can be OK with pooling in some instances, but this was goofy looking. So I ripped. Last night while paging through Vogue Stitchionary 2: Cables I found "zig and zag" (#10), and I thought the twisted stitches might fix the color segregation problem. I think it might be working. It appears to be spiraling the hot pink; it's on all three needles. I'm keeping my fingers metaphorically crossed.


Last Friday I tried the Lenten Rose pattern from Sundara's Petal Collections while watching Monk and Psych. That proved a mistake. After two repeats of the pattern I wondered why it didn't look like Sundara's picture. My double YO eyelets did not line up like Sundara's. So I ripped. I tried again last night. I think this time I got it right. It helped for me to chart the pattern!?! That is so unlike me, I don't know what to think of that, so I'm just knitting instead.


The Fleece Artist Parrot (guacamole) sock is waiting patiently for my hair appointment on Saturday afternoon. I've promised to work on it then, and get it done very soon.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

VLT Scarf FO

Finally, I found time and space to block the wide-bordered "Scarf" from page 80 of Victorian Lace Today. The patterns in this book were obviously not named with blog posts and knitting bloggers in mind! Before beginning, I had trepidations about the orthogonal changes in knitting directions, so I chose the easiest pattern. Let's just say I didn't feel challenged during the knitting. I did love knitting with Sea Silk!!

Before the blocking:
Berry Sea Silk VLT Scarf: wet
"I'm not feeling my prettiest right now," Scarf.

After the blocking:
VLT Scarf in Berry Sea Silk
"I'm feeling so much more open and relaxed!"

I chose this yarn for myself originally, but over Christmas, when Grandma Adeline told me that she had lost the feather and fan scarf I knit her a couple years ago, AND that she would love another scarf in a different color (she still hoped to find the first), I decided the Berry Sea Silk should be for her. I guess I could have been vexed that she lost the first scarf, but I decided it was a real compliment that she had liked the scarf enough to confess to losing it and asking for another.

Grandma Adeline is not tall, so I only knit five of the seven repeats of the border, and then I knit the entire scarf to 42 inches long (including both borders). This blocked to 49 inches long. I did a gentle block as the Sea Silk is not stretchy. I soaked the scarf in cool water for 15-20 minutes, squeezed out the excess water, took embarrassing photos of the wet lace scarf blob, then laid it out on a beach towel. I only pinned the points of the borders. I like to try the gentlest blocking method first with non-wool fibers, and then if that doesn't work, I can always reblock with more muscle. This gentle blocking satisfied me. The border is simple but rather attractive, although it isn't absolutely symmetrical in design.

Godmother's Wide Border in Berry Sea Silk

The best part of this project is that I have 59 of the original 100 grams of the Sea Silk left! It's like having my cake and eating it, too.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sock Stories

I am very happy to report that the errant second Gingerbread Cable Sock and I have completely reconciled. In fact, the GCS have gone from a WIP to a FO! We are both very pleased.

Gingerbread Cable Socks
"I can't believe she finally finished you, my lovely sock mate!" First Sock.

OK, I don't have cute kitties like Chris, so I have to make my socks talk. It's sad, I know. The completion of the GCS means that only the Fleece Artist merino socks in Parrot are still on the needles. I think FA misnamed this colorway; it should be called Guacamole, but maybe I'm just hungry.


Actually, I do have two other pairs of socks on the needles, but they are soon to be frogged. Both annoy me. First, I don't like the colors in this yarn. The gold with the pink, blue, grey and white just doesn't do it for me. I want my needles back, so it's going to be ripped.


Second to go is this cuff; it's the third pattern attempt with this yarn (Fleece Artist for Simply Sock Yarn's first anniversary), and I don't like the striping. It's too jarring, so back into the stash it goes.


All this frogging leaves me needles to finally cast on for the Lenten Rose pattern from Sundara's Petals Collection. I plan to use the lace pattern Sundara provided. I'm very excited by both the yarn and the pattern.


I received the next installment in the Petals Collection today: Birds of Paradise. I'd show you, but Flickr won't let me upload the picture. It's very bright and cheerful. I'll save it for the Easter season.

I also want to get a pair of the Tofutsies M bought me as described in my last post on the needles. My friend Elsie has knit a couple pairs of Tofutsies socks, and she really likes the yarn. She machine washes and dries her handknit socks, and she reports that the Tofutsies yarn holds up well to this laundering routine, and the socks get even softer with washing (it's really soft in the skein). I'm hoping the soy silk/wool blend will extend the handknit sock wearing season here in California.

It's time to play with Sundara's yarn!

Have a great weekend!